Tippeligaen – Molde v Sarpsborg Preview (23/7/16)

MFK-SARPS

Molde preview

The champions of 2014 have had a really rough period of late. They’ve lost 4 of their last 6 games and couldn't even beat lowly Start last weekend. In fact, at one stage it actually looked like they might even lose against the basement club, relying on yet another Joona Toivio free kick. He’s been one of the few bright sparks recently, but the Molde captain is now ruled out for the rest of the season due to a broken collarbone suffered when cycling! Right back Isak Ssewankambo is still out, as is left back Per Egil Flo. So the hosts are a bit shorthanded at the back and have recently suffered the blow of losing key attackers like Fredrik Gulbrandsen & Moi Elyounoussi. Some new guys have been signed, one of those being Babacar Sarr from Sogndal. Whether or not he'll be available straight away to play here remains to be seen.

Sarpsborg preview

The visitors continued their good run of form thanks to a solid 3-0 win against Lillestrom last week. It wasn’t a great match and they did play an opponent well out of form, but Sarpsborg got the job done comfortably in the end. The team from southern Norway travel here having won 7 of their last 11 games which is an excellent return. Included in that run was a 4-0 home success against Molde, which should give them plenty of confidence and belief approaching this clash. I still find Sarpsborg a difficult side to judge. It appears as though they have good all round strength in the squad and don’t rely on one particular aspect. Their tactics and style can change from week to week which makes them difficult to predict. The condition of the squad looks pretty good heading into this game and they welcome back key midfielder Anders Trondsen which is a welcome boost.

Conclusion

Both Tippeligaen matches on Saturday look difficult to predict and I feel that this one is capable of going either way. Molde are struggling a bit and going through an identity change. A lot of transfers have occurred recently, both in and out of the club which isn’t really ideal at this stage of the season. There have been some question marks surrounding the coaching of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. His tactics haven’t been particularly good in recent weeks and at times Molde have looked clueless. I have no doubt they’ll be fairly attack minded here and go for it, as they usually do at home. The real question mark is how Sarpsborg will approach the fixture. Will they adopt the Viking approach which netted them a 1-0 win here two weeks ago, or have a proper go similar to how Start operated last weekend. I’m not really sure, but my gut instinct is that Sarpsborg will be hard to break down and could frustrate Molde. I don’t think the away side will lose, but whether or not they can win I’m not sure. This is still a difficult place to visit and Molde have been a strong home side in the last few years. That said, they won’t get a better chance to claim victory at the Aker Stadion and maybe they can heap more misery on the west coast club.

Prediction: 1-2

Betting analysis

I have to say I was tempted by Sarpsborg +0.75 here. The price on Molde seems really short for a side bang out of form. Sarpsborg have been in good knick of late winning a lot of matches and proved when they visited Rosenborg they have no fear of anyone. On that occasion they lost 5-2, but it was an extremely harsh scoreline and they were much closer to the champions than it suggested. But the problem taking Sarpsborg with a sizeable bet on a handicap is what if they are losing by one goal with 10 mins left? In that instance they would gamble and push everyone forward possibly leading towards a backdoor cover for Molde to win by 2 or 3 goals. I don't rate the hosts right now but I'm not willing to take them on with a decent sized bet. I will however have a small nibble of Sarpsborg to win outright. I really think this is a good time to be facing Solskjaer's men. Remember, not so long ago the visitors led 2-1 at the Lerkendal Stadion against RBK. Only a penalty and some quality goals denied them there. With odds of 4.61, they are worth a small bet and these odds are a bit of a joke. Anyone backing Molde @ 1.80 needs to think again IMO because this is a price based upon reputation rather than the current situation and form. Regarding the goal line, it’s set at 3.0 and this seems about fair,. Most Molde home games are pretty open and overall it has a real feeling of a push written all over it. So I won't get involved in that market.

Recommended bet: Sarpsborg to win @ 4.61 (small stake) (minimum odds acceptable 4.0)

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